I was encouraged and convicted by this exhortation to lay the ax to the root of my sinful heart by William Greenhill, an English minister in the seventeenth century:
As there must be humiliation, so there must be reformation. Let us lay the ax to the root of our sins this day, if God lay it to the root of kingdoms, it is time for us to lay it to the root of our sins. It is said, “He that confesses his sin, and forsakes it shall have mercy” (Prov 28:13).—William Greenhill, "The Axe at the Root, A Sermon Preached before the Honourable House of Commons," 30-31. London, 1643.
It is without question we have often times in public confessed our sins, but what if heaven should now demand of us whether we have forsaken them? I fear there would be a general silence. It is a vain thing to expect mercy and live in sin. If we do not forsake them, they will stop the sluices of mercy and hasten in destruction upon you, us, all. Humiliation without reformation is a mocking of God and provokes much. Has sin brought us low? Let the ax of reformation bring sin low this day, lay it to the root of sin and cut that down.